Workspace Interior Design Tips: Spatial Changes That Can Facilitate Human Interaction
Covid-19 has certainly forced us to re-evaluate the way we live and work and to mitigate similar disruptions in the future we will have to quickly adapt to a new way with wisdom borrowed from the past which brings us to a question important – after the pandemic, what spatial changes in workspaces can promote human interaction? Knowing that we occupy almost two-thirds of a working day, the design of workspaces must fundamentally address the concerns of adequate lighting and ventilation, prerequisites for the well-being of employees.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Sidhartha Talwar, Director of Studio Lotus, said: “Before conventional air conditioning became popular in India, buildings were designed to optimize cross ventilation and daylight penetration through simple design mechanisms such as operable windows, shallow floor plates and jaalis. In light of the pandemic, we need to return to this model to ensure better natural air exchange in conjunction with pumping fresh air through the interiors to reduce the possibility of the virus spreading. Additionally, the incorporation of skylights and clerestory windows and controlled ventilation using louvers can also help reduce building energy requirements. »
He added: “Predicting the design of spaces on employee health and well-being through courtyards, daylight-lit spillways and lounging areas such as terraces will negate the need for refurbishment, while by providing opportunities for human interaction. Functionally, the 21st century office can be specially designed to meet the specific requirements of an organization. It should also encourage social interaction – through overflows, common spaces and breakout areas – to create and foster a sense of community and belonging within the workforce. The way an office is structured and operated can have a direct impact on organizational culture. It is crucial for designers to interpret the structure, ethos and culture of a company it seeks to nurture so that the workplace is representative of these values. In the information age, rigid planning based on outdated workplace hierarchies and social structures must give way to arrangements that promote agility and flexibility for better collaboration and cross-learning. The workplace of the future must continuously evolve to attract and retain employees, meet their aspirations and withstand shocks similar to the one we are witnessing today. »
Stating that health and safety is very important in design, Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect at Architecture Discipline, shared, “There is a need to design our workspaces for longevity, and part of that involves prioritizing to health. After the pandemic, workplaces began to place greater importance on employee well-being. This can be done in several ways. Well-lit, well-serviced spaces with access to pleasant views help users think clearly and work efficiently. Open, landscaped overflow spaces can be a great way to facilitate interaction while bringing a sense of calm and relief to a workspace.
Office buildings are one of the most crucial spaces that affect our physical and psychological well-being since a person spends most of their time in their working environment even after the pandemic people have adapted to styles more flexible working conditions in various ways and there is more flexibility in terms of working hours with people regularly adopting home working. Thus, the idea of a fixed workspace for each employee is slowly turning into flexible seating, in which it is a type of plug-and-play system; anyone can sit in any seat and do their job and people are not restricted to their particular workstation.
Although work has become more collaborative these days, Mitu Mathur, director of GPM Architects and Planners, believes that at the same time professionals are all virtually connected. So design lots of little booths where people can hold meetings on different media platforms. to have a physical meeting of 5-6 people together in a conference room. She said: “An understanding of the human mindset post-pandemic is necessary to create healthy, cohesive spaces that can induce productivity, collaboration, and creativity. Spaces that help people network while providing the space required for social distancing are the need of the hour.
She revealed, “Large-scale office complexes with column-free spaces give us a chance to introduce flexibility into the design. We also need to design workspaces to provide more surface area per person, but that doesn’t have to be in a cubicle format. Configurations may vary — pinwheel pattern, curvilinear pattern, etc. — to avoid face-to-face interactions. Efficient design of the structural grid and functional modules of the built forms allows for an open floor plan that can be freely transformed as needed. The design of a modular and standardized structure creates the possibility of further expansion. Using lightweight, movable partitions, instead of fixed cabinets, which can be easily reconfigured, can make it easier to change layouts in the future. »
Encouraging to introduce green spaces into workspaces as they can contribute to human health and well-being, Mitu Mathur said: “For example, to achieve the desired indoor air quality and a bacteria-free environment, office spaces today incorporate indoor plants and moss walls and use refuge areas. as green spaces. Today, with the constant evolution of future needs, we anticipate how the spaces of the building will be designed. With innovations and increasing levels of comfort, the transformation of life and work has become very common. Therefore, buildings must be designed to adapt, evolve and change over time. Architects must consider the future of workspaces, and all aspects of adaptability and flexibility must be incorporated into the design philosophy. »
Dakshayani Sheth, Regional Manager – Edifice Consultants in Pune, said, “By creating a mobile, flexible and user-friendly design, we can help people connect their old and new worlds seamlessly. Keep it flexible for multiple outcomes, program spaces for multiple uses, keep them easily reconfigurable, scalable and sustainable. These are some of the broader approaches we take in workspace design. As the world waits for natural immunity to kick in or for vaccines to boost it, the responsibility rests with us, designers of physical spaces, to facilitate human interaction with minimum risk and maximum commitment. We must reassure them without compromise, keep them away without isolating them and protect them without isolating them.